The day, Thursday, the 3rd of April 2003.
It’s a special morning, clouds of smoke still covering Baghdad but there’s a growing feeling that we’re close to the end. The atmosphere is polluted because of the oil trenches but still not enough to hide the beautiful sun of April.
The scene of the roses in the garden is so beautiful and the good new is that one of our date palms is giving signs of growing dates this year for the first time.
People in the streets are nervous and confused as there is more information coming about the coalition troops approaching Baghdad.
Army vehicles, tanks, missile launchers and field cannons are retreating to Baghdad and gathering in the residential neighborhoods (the bastards are taking positions near our houses and we started to see trucks loaded with ammunition hiding in the neighborhood’s narrow streets. This is scary, are they going to fight from here? They’ll destroy everything?).
The news today say that the coalition troops are now only 20 km from Baghdad and we’re hearing rumors that some sectors in the south of Baghdad are being evacuated from civilians, after a short while we got a confirmation that the rumor is true; my uncle came with his family this noon after they left their house (in an area adjacent to the airport) he said that he woke up in the morning to find that some soldiers have opened the out door and put some boxes of artillery ammunition in his garden. He said, “Who can disobey those guys or even try to negotiate with them. I left the house and I couldn’t even show my objection”. My uncle was so sad; it was hard for him to leave the house that he spent years building it; he’s a father for 5 children and he doesn’t even want to think about the fate of his house and we tried everything to reassure him but it was useless.
Events are coming fast and the news now say that the troops are now 10 km away from the airport. We are really excited but having the army units hiding among our houses is the scariest thing.
It’s night now and here comes the most important update “the coalition controls 80% of the airport” Oh God, they’re so close! Many families started to escape our neighborhood heading towards the governorate of Deyala. The street is very crowded by the cars heading east and anxiety is seen clearly in the faces.
Ok, Baghdad is surrounded from the south and I think the Americans will not attack until they surround Baghdad from all directions. Now we have the last chance to escape through the eastern way but today the decision is taken; we will stay and we will live the moment.
The sound of the jet fighters and bombing has increased tonight, and then the thing we were afraid of finally happened (electricity is gone) we went to the roof to face a scene that is more like fiction, heavy darkness covering the entire city and not a bit of light at the horizon. I can’t see anything few meters away; the shut down involved the whole electricity network supplying Baghdad. It’s a moonless night but the stars are shining so bright. However, we can enjoy this charming, unique view for the sky.
All we have now is the radio, candles and a battery torch. Starting from tomorrow we’ll have to depend completely on the generator. The second surprise is that the water supplies have stopped completely. Ok, we have prepared for this too but life is now very dismal without the light and TV. The explosions sounds are now clearer.
It seemed that I had nothing to do but trying to sleep early but with firs try to lie on the bed and after a few minutes I heard a strange sound; a series of what seemed to be doubled blasts the first one was muffled followed few seconds later by a frank explosion.
I left the room to see that every body have rose too, we looked at each other wondering “what is this?” we haven’t heard such type of explosions yet. My father calmly explained to us the nature of these blasts “these are the sounds of field cannons” (this may not seem frightening to a man like my father who served 30 years in the army but for us; we got panicked) We went outside to see the sky lightens every few seconds with the flash of cannon fire. It is a field battle! And a close one. This is strange, scary and great at the same time; we felt happy, as we knew we’re now so close to the end but we also felt very worried. The atmosphere reminded me of a scene from (gone with the wind) where the union army unexpectedly arrived at the southern city where most of the events of the novel took place, we were taken completely by surprise but the difference here is that we’re happy to see the (union) so close.
The end is much closer than we all expected.